2012 Channel Champions: Unified Communications

Out of the five technology categories in Channel Champs that Cisco won overall, UC was the one it swept outright, boasting higher scores in every subcategory than either of its major challengers. In the technical satisfaction rating, Cisco earned a high mark of 91.6 in product quality and reliability, and swept the other four criteria in this subcategory, including price for performance. In support satisfaction, it shone in postsales support, and general availability of technical training.

Collaboration and unified communications is "the partner investment opportunity of the decade," a $42 billion market opportunity for Cisco channel partners, according to Richard McLeod, senior director, collaboration sales in Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization.

UC and collaboration sales pull through data networking and infrastructure products needed for network upgrades, as well as help customers tackle their BYOD challenges.

"We see this as expanding the market opportunity for partners," said McLeod. "You have to be able to use applications and video and do these things on any type of device from wherever you are."

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"Cisco's story resonates quite well with enterprise customers that are trying to manage all of these mobile devices--all the smartphones and tablets," said Bob Olwig, vice president of business strategy and marketing at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider.

"The next question that comes up quickly is the network infrastructure to support that device, and how's that managed, and [whether it is] secure. I think Cisco does a good job answering all three of those questions," said Olwig.